Friday, June 4, 2010
In the prologue of Lars von Trier's Antichrist, a married couple is having sex in their bathroom while their little child walks over the edge of an open window to his death. It all goes downhill from there.
The prologue is shot beautifully in black/white, in slow motion, and set to Haendel's 'Lascia Ch'io Pianga'. For the 45 minutes after that, I could hardly stay awake. And for the next 45 minutes, I wished I were still asleep. The film is divided into four chapters (in addition to the prologue and the epilogue). After the child's death, she (the mother, a fantastic Charlotte Gainsbourg) slides into a depression, and he (the father, a much too old Willem Dafoe, who seems to have been selected mainly because he has played Christ before) tries to get her out of it. He is a very successful therapist apparently, and while he knows all the rules (never treat your family, never have sex with your client), he can't quite abide by them. Long story short, he tries to cure her, she pays back by lengthily torturing him. That's women for ya!
Walking into a von Trier film, I expect misogyny (much as he denies it), but I also expect to be cinematically shaken up. None such after the prologue. It is excellently directed, I just am not impressed by the direction it takes.